January 13, 2015

Finale Reviews: Parks and Rec Season 6 - "Moving Up"

"Love and Waffles and Possibility"

The Pawnee Parks Gang
Ready to say goodbye to these guys?
Source: nbc.com
Parks and Rec returns tonight. Seems like there's no better time to look back, and look forward. I'll say it now, I'm apprehensive. NBC has squeezed this show's teensy thirteen-episode farewell season into the tiniest stretch of the television real estate imaginable. Promo ads reveal that Season 7 will be coming to us "From the Future!" Season 6 sometimes hit, but largely missed. For all these reasons, I'm nervous that one of my favorite shows on TV won't get the goodbye its earlier seasons deserve.

The Season 6 finale, "Moving Up" helped quell my fears... a little.

I was rewatching that episode last week, I kept thinking, "why is everything so over the top?" The Unity Concert, the panoramic shots of San Francisco, the Michelle Obama cameo... Wasn't this too big for a show about Pawnee, Indiana? The place where a Freddy Spaghetti concert was a major event?

Ben finds himself suddenly on the forest moon of Endor...
At the start of Season 7, where are we?
Source: nbc.com
Then something Jennifer Barkley said hit me. Leslie outgrew her position in the Parks Department. And just as Leslie grew out of her small town dreams in Pawnee, Parks and Rec might have grown up without my realizing it. Freddy Spaghetti was way back in Season 2. Since then, Pawnee has hosted the Harvest Festival, a model UN, a huge Founders' Week celebration and parade, and countless more    events - all of which wouldn't have been possible without Leslie Knope and her big dreams.

"Moving Up" was a happy episode. It was true to its characters. It gave us more Cones of Dunshire! It set up a beautiful future for Pawnee. Even though it didn't feel like the show's beginnings, it felt a little like it could have been the show's end. As many have noted, the episode's flash forward final scene would have even made for a satisfying series finale. And it would have been a happy ending! ...But it's not the end.

So where does that leave us? Leslie said it best: "The sun is rising over a sea of love, and waffles, and possibility."

Like it's inspiration (The Office), Parks and Rec has garnered a bevy of supportive, loving fans. Fans who will probably love the final season even if it does all take place in a ridiculously corny future far from the gentle/brash comedy beginnings it greeted us with in its first few seasons.

No matter what happens, Parks and Rec has left us with a legacy of television characters, moments, and quotes that won't be changed even if the network does dismiss its one-time hit with a rushed final season. If waffles make a comeback with my generation, it'll be thanks to Leslie Knope.

We've got thirteen more episodes with our friends in Pawnee. Part of me is worried. Worried that these "futuristic" episodes will ruin all the great ones that came before. But then, that's not a very Knope-like attitude, is it? No, I'm going to choose optimism. That these episodes will be great. At least, they have a chance to be. And I'm hopeful.

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